Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chocolate and hazelnuts

Hey – So, I have finally gotten off the dime on the chocolate/hazelnut confections. I love that combination so much, and the little ones I got in Germany were so good, that I wanted to try my very own. So, I came up with the thought of a milk chocolate truffle filling, coated with a layer of crushed hazelnuts and rice crispy things, dipped in dark chocolate. It was so perfect in theory . . . .
Wow, do I have a long way to go.

Luckily, I evaluated the rice crispy element and discovered that they lose their crispness and they have a plain/flat flavor that is terrible, even in combination with chocolate (at least the organic ones do – ok, I should have gotten the real ones, but Whole Foods only sells the cardboard ones). So, at least I didn’t waste a whole bunch of milk chocolate truffle filling. But if you roll the ganache in just plain crushed toasted hazelnuts, they’re really really good!

The truffle filling is a ganache made from 2 parts milk chocolate and 1 part heavy cream. I used Callebaut chocolate and the ganache comes out with a caramel-y flavor that’s very good. It is a little soft, so maybe I would back off the cream a little bit. I formed the filling into balls with a small ice cream scoop, but it was too soft to really handle so then I popped them in the freezer to firm them up a bit before rolling them. It would be easy and good to add an extract – almond, rum, etc., to the cream and flavor the filling that way.

The coating is another story – tempered chocolate could be my downfall. You have to temper the chocolate in order to have a glossy coating with a good snap. Tempering chocolate is hard. It has to do with heating the chocolate up and then cooling it back down so that it is still melted, but at some perfect temperature where the cocoa butter doesn’t separate from the cocoa solids and it hardens with a beautiful shine and the right texture. I am not qualified to explain how to do it, because apparently I can’t. If you fail to temper it properly, the chocolate hardens streaky and ugly, and not as crisp as it should be, though it is still very tasty. But not something you can put out for company. I have since read a lot about tempering chocolate, and short of a tempering machine there is no easy solution – you just have to be patient and accurate – traits I thought I had in abundance J. The good thing is, you can re-temper chocolate. You can also use the broken stuff in anything calling for melted chocolate, including brownies and chocolate gelato, to name a few things. . . . .

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